The Portland Review, Portland State’s 59-year-old student-run literary journal, lost its entire staff to turnover this summer.
(Full disclosure: the author of this article was a volunteer reader for the Portland Review in the 2014-15 school year.)
Former Editor-in-Chief Alex Dannemiller, who is now an adjunct professor in the English department, said the turnover is not necessarily cause for concern.
“Part of that is just the regular changeover, people just graduating and moving on,” he said.
“Because of the nature of the journal—the fact that graduate students are here for a short time—it’s not that surprising,” Dannemiller said. “people are usually here for two years, and they move on. It’s hard sometimes to create a sense of continuation.”
Budget cuts, however, have also presented challenges to the Review in recent years. The Review is a Student Media organization funded entirely by student fees, and its budget went from $28,216 in 2009-10 to $6,499 for the 2014-15 school year. With the exception of a 1.63 percent increase in 2010-11, the Student Fee Committee has cut funding to the Review every year for the past five years.
“The issues back then may have been on better, higher quality paper with color images,” Dannemiller said. “We’ve still be able to print three issues a year, which is standard.”
“Sometimes [in the past] they would do a summer issue as well, but we haven’t done anything like that,” he continued. “For the most part it covers what we need, but we could always do more.”
Educational Leadership Service Awards—monetary compensation awarded to student leaders running student fee-funded campus organizations—were also cut as a result of a drastically reduced budget.
“We get $4,500 split among the position,” Dannemiller said. “The editor-in-chief receives $900 [per term]. There are only three paid positions, and we used to get paid more.”
Print and online editors each receive $300 per term for their work, which is often time consuming, depending on the timing to the Review’s production schedule. Section editors receive no compensation.
Dannemiller said he had both print and online editors drop out last year due to the demanding schedule and low pay. Despite the valuable experience of working for the Review, he said, “That’s time away from doing another job that you might actually make money off of, or something like your thesis.”
With an increased budget, Dannemiller said it would incentivize the work more.
Dannemiller also said that with the current budget the Review cannot afford to pay contributors, which severely limits who will publish in the Review and, by extension, who subscribes to the journal.
In the past, the Review has published local writer Ursula K. Le Guin and other renowned authors. Most known writers, according to Dannemiller, won’t submit due to the lack of payment.
Dannemiller said he has talked to several people from the English department about taking the review out from under the Student Media umbrella and running it through the English department in order to ensure more oversight from English professors and a higher quality journal.
“That’s still in its infancy,” he said. “I don’t know when it would happen…it’s a matter of working out funding and the logistics and making sure, in bringing over Portland Review, that it wouldn’t cause it to fall apart.”
“It’ll be fine, anyways,” he said. “I have confidence in whoever takes it over.”